By Joseph Harper
This play is called Tartuffe and is about a guy named Tartuffe and this rich family. And Tartuffe is basically this guy who pretends to be seriously Christian but is really this big phoney and everybody knows it except for the family’s patriarch who is pretty much in love with Tartuffe.
The set has a swimming pool in it. Not like some crappy above ground thing, but an actual swimming pool, which is a fairly impressive undertaking. I didn’t really understand why it was there though. I tried to figure out if it was some kind of swimming pool shaped metaphor, but I couldn’t think of anything. I guess it’s just so the audience think , Woah. Check out that friggen swimming pool.
Paolo Rotondo plays Tartuffe. He’s pretty sexy/charming, and there was a point near the end when he made his face look like he was transforming into a rat or something. Like in the movie they made of The Witches. Like when the witches were turning into rats, and they’re half-rat, half-witch. He looked like that. That was probably my favourite part of the play actually. He had pretty good costumes and lights on him most of the time, but I wasn’t totally sold by him. Everything was telling me that he was this duplicitous varmint, but I mean, he didn’t really seem evil. It wasn’t that I was particularly charmed by him or anything. Maybe it was because of who he was deceiving. The family is this collection of overblown stereotypes whose stupidity is only matched by their narcissism. Somehow they’re aware of Tartuffe’s true nature though (I guess because it threatens their own lifestyle and prospects), but other than that they seem to be totally lacking any form of self-awareness. It was hard to feel bad for them. That’s the point in the end though I suppose. There’s nobody to root for in Tartuffe. You’re just supposed to laugh at them all. All the rich dumbasses. And they make us laugh with gawky localisation and big musical numbers and bawdy sexy stuff and swearwords. It’s all pretty extensive and looks really expensive, and it worked most of the time because the audience was loving most of it. But unfortunately, when it doesn’t hit its mark, all that stuff kind of doesn’t count for much because without that stuff, all of the characters are dipshits who don’t seem to have a toe in any kind of reality.
I was wondering about the audience too. I mean, who is actually laughing? Who goes to Silo productions? I wonder how many people drove back home to Avondale, if you know what I mean. And so I’ve been trying to unpack this. It’s a pretty important discourse I think (especially given the global social climate it’s entered into (re Occupy [somewhere] and the current ‘fucked’ economic zeitgeist)). This is a play that rich people (if you’ll allow me to generalise re Silo’s audience) go to, and laugh at rich people, but here, the audience are never given that moment where they realise they’re being made fun of and feel like shit/experience catharsis. It’s like the satire’s there, but it’s teeth fall out at the last moment because it’s afraid it’ll be put down..
The end of the play is really bad. But I think this production handled it in the best way possible. By pushing an unsatisfying deus ex machina device to a place that’s simultaneously absurd and literal and then dressing the shit out of it with loud music and naughtiness. Sort of celebrating the irony.
The set also has this massive white rug thing. I couldn’t figure out what it was made of, but it seemed like feathers or some kind of fluff. It looked pretty cool (as if they were walking on the back of some elephantine polar bear), but parts of it kept coming off and sticking to the costumes of actors. There was one point where it got really really wet, and for the rest of the play I couldn’t stop thinking about how they would dry it every night. Did they have a spare? Would they use a crack team of actors with blow-dryers? What effect would this constant cycle of wetting and drying have on the rug? Would it smell like some shitty dog? Would it become brittle and terse and burn the knees of those who have to shuffle around on it? I think the dilemma that this big white rug presented for me is a good allegory for my impression of Tartuffe.
This is the first play I’ve seen at Q theatre. It’s pretty big. My girlfriend got a glass of wine and it cost $8 and it was “pretty small”. So, y’know, hills and troughs.